Admiral Kirk's defeat of Khan and the creation of the Genesis planet are empty victories. Spock is dead and McCoy is unexplainably being driven insane. Then an unexpected visit from Sarek, Spock's father, provides a startling revelation: McCoy is harboring Spock's living essence. With one friend alive and one not, but both in pain, Kirk attempts to help his friends by stealing the Enterprise and defying Starfleet's Genesis quarantine. But the Klingons have also learned of Genesis and race to meet Kirk in a deadly rendezvous.
Directed by: Leonard Nimoy
. Starring: William Shatner
, Leonard Nimoy
, DeForest Kelley
, James Doohan
, Walter Koenig
, George Takei
, Nichelle Nichols
, Robin Curtis
, Merritt Butrick
, Phil Morris
, Scott McGinnis
, Robert Hooks
, Carl Steven
. Music by: James Horner
STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK was yet another 'Star Trek' film Paramount had not originally intended to make (considering the profits the studio has reaped from the franchise, their continuing narrow vision is astonishing!), but Spock's death in STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN had created such controversy, and the first two Trek films had been so successful, that it required little arm-twisting to convince studio bosses to 'green light' a third installment (with a very modest budget).
ProducerWriter Harve Bennett knew how he wanted to resurrect Spock, but with Nicholas Meyer unavailable to direct, he needed someone familiar with the 'Star Trek Universe' to helm the project. So when 'Spock', himself, Leonard Nimoy, expressed a desire to direct it, Bennett was more than pleased. Nimoy was not a complete novice, having directed for television (including an episode of William Shatner's 'T.J. Hooker'), his understanding of his fellow crewmates and Vulcan ritual was unimpeachable, and he had little 'ego', making the working experience with him a joy for everyone involved.
As was the case with ST:TWOK, THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK was filmed primarily on sound stages, due to budget restraints, utilizing existing sets, when possible (which was why the Genesis Planet sequences appeared so claustrophobic). The film begins with a flashback from the previous film, concluding with Spock's coffin on the Genesis Planet. As the Enterprise returns to Earth to be decommissioned, strange things are happening to Dr. McCoy (the always reliable DeForest Kelley). He is hanging out in Spock's darkened quarters, and Spock's voice can be heard, coming from him. Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) chalks it up to depression, something the entire crew is experiencing, and sympathizes with him. Meanwhile, Kirk's son, David Marcus (Merritt Butrick), and Lt. Saavik (Robin Curtis, replacing Kirstie Alley, who had joined the cast of 'Cheers'), are on a science ship investigating the Genesis Planet (why David's mother, Carol Marcus, isn't involved, or even mentioned, is left unexplained), and they are detecting a lifeform reading that shouldn't be there. Faster than you can say "Spock!", the pair beam down to investigate. Also investigating the planet is a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, helmed by the ruthless Commander Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), who hopes that any technology powerful enough to 'remake' a planet might provide a weapon against the Federation. Destroying the science ship, he and a party beam down to the surface to capture it's 'creator', Marcus.
Back on Earth, Kirk is visited by Spock's father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), who is stunned to discover that Kirk had 'dumped' his son's body on the planet, and didn't possess the Vulcan's 'soul'. Unknown to Kirk, Vulcan ritual required a melding of both body and mind, with resurrection as the end result. Kirk quickly deduces that McCoy possesses the 'soul', (explaining his 'lapses' into Spock's personality) and finds him in a padded cell, after the good doctor, trying to hire a ship to go to the Genesis Planet, attempted to fight off Federation security using a Vulcan nerve pinch. Despite the warnings of the Federation, Kirk, after 'springing' McCoy, and the original crew hijack the Enterprise, and are soon on their way to recover Spock's body, and return it to Vulcan.
Saavik and Marcus find a rejuvenated and rapidly maturing Spock, and the female Vulcan introduces him to sex, when the youth experiences Pon Farr for the first time (one wishes Alley had been playing Saavik during THIS scene!) Soon after, the Klingons capture the trio, and threaten torture to learn Genesis' secret. Learning that the Enterprise is en route, young Marcus sacrifices himself to save the others (Kirk's stunned reaction to the death of his son would color his opinion of Klingons, ever afterward). With the planet self-destructing, Kirk would have to defeat his son's killer, and rescue Spock and Saavik, returning them immediately to Vulcan, or risk losing his friend, forever. The climax, featuring the destruction of the Enterprise, and re-emergence of Leonard Nimoy, as Spock, make ST:TSFS a memorable experience.
While the film lacked the electricity of ST:TWOK, it is a moving, powerful film in it's own right, with a haunting variation of the earlier film's music, by James Horner, and a cameo by legendary Dame Judith Anderson. Nimoy's direction was strong and cinematic, assuring him the directorial duties for the next Trek, THE VOYAGE HOME.
No matter what 'tradition' says about 'odd' and 'even'-numbered 'Star Trek' films, ST:TSFS is not a 'loser', in any sense of the word. It provided Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu (James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and George Takei) their best big-screen appearances, gave Kelley an opportunity to play 'dual' roles, and reaffirmed what ST:TWOK had demonstrated about William Shatner; that after his fiasco in STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, the Canadian actor had truly reclaimed the role of Kirk.
Review by Ben Burgraff (cariart) from the Internet Movie Database.